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The challenges of bringing healthcare to rural areas of the state

A farm in rural Iowa. The high school graduates who head off to college in the lowest proportions in America are the ones from rural places.
Brad Covington
A rural farm in the midwest.

This interview is from SDPB's daily public-affairs show, In the Moment, hosted by Lori Walsh.

The role of rural hospitals is shifting quickly. For some communities, funding might be inadequate or unravelling. Nursing and provider shortages could jeopardize the quality and longevity of local care.

Keith Mueller, Ph.D. is director of the Rural Policy Research Instituteand its Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis. He is also the Gerhard Hartman Professor and head of the Department of Health Management and Policy at the University of Iowa.

On Medicaid expansion: Mueller says several states have brought the issue of Medicaid expansion to voters. He says voters should consider how rural facilities receive funding when they consider their vote.

On how the pandemic changed rural health care in America: Mueller says communities are wise to consider their health care preparedness on an ongoing basis, from staffing to supply chains. The lessons of the COVID pandemic should be leveraged for future crises.

On federal vaccine mandates: Mueller says staffing levels at already thinly resourced rural hospitals could take a further hit from employees who resist COVID vaccine mandates, but the overall impact is usually minimal and short-term. He also suggests health care leaders plan for surges in different communities as the pandemic continues, including ways to share staff in neighboring towns when infection rates increase.

Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, S.D., invited Dr. Mueller to discuss health care policy as part of their McGovern Speaker Series.

Lori Walsh is the host and senior producer of In the Moment.
Steven is a producer for In the Moment.